Legend (as a man)

I’ve never written for a website before and I don’t intend to again, but today I’ve got my blood pumping and the reason for this is the phrase I keep hearing “McCall is a legend as a player.”

As a Bradford City player no player has ever equalled what Stuart McCall achieved for this club and probably no one ever will. In saying this I do not include simply his performances as a player in two spells for the club but what he has done as a man. A man of dignity and character.

I have stood next Stuart McCall at Fire Memorial services for the best part of twenty-five years, I’ve had him shake my hand and tell be two decades after when he was a young man as was I that he still feels for my loss and I’ve looked into his eyes as he had said it to me and I have seen an empathy. I’ve talked to him about the pain of his own father’s injuries and shown the same eyes back to him.

This means more to me than promotions and the number of times he kicked a ball for the club and the number of wins and losses under his stewardship.

This is what legends are made of.

I read this phrase “Legend as a player” and it makes me sick to the pit of my stomach. It makes me more sick than a thousand defeats ever will.

I talk to my friends who rationalise with me saying that people do not have my experiences and that people only mean that they respect him as a player, but not as a manager and I take a drink and hear what they say but I do not agree.

What does that mean anyway? That they support Stuart McCall when he is a player who they can cheer in the best of times but when he is a manager and things are going badly they do not consider him worth cheering? Worse that they consider him worth abusing?

They talk as if McCall himself will shake them by the hand and take a drink with them saying “Thanks for your support when we were going up and I fully understand why you had to treat me like garbage as a manager later on because I was not pleasing you.”

There is no player, there is no manager. There is just a man.

A young man who supported us at the worst time in our lives and gets everything he has done for us sliced into pieces on the basis of how much glory some “fans” think they can get out of it and how much glory they can feel reflected from it. As if the balance of a man’s legend could be weighed up by how much success he brought to you. What is this phrase “Legend” that gets thrown around these days anyway? It is one of those modern society words that means “How much I can get out of it” and “How good is it for me.”

People tell me that we can’t keep a manager on sentiment and I tell them that I’m not talking about a manager or result, I’m talking about a man and the decent treatment of a man. A man who deserves so much more than a set of brackets that say which parts of his life you like and which you don’t.

A good man, and for what he has done for this football club, a legend.

Full stop.